All Shook Up: “Glee” raises the roof for fall TV line-up
| Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Fox only has three new series premiering for its fall lineup, and the shining star is quirky comedy “Glee.” The show is unlike anything on television right now, and although it does have the proven combination of high school and musical, “Glee” adds more realistic obstacles and teenage angst into the mix. Only one episode has aired, but already it has the kind of cult-like following that can either help (think “LOST” or “The Office”) or hurt a show (“Veronica Mars” or “Arrested Development”).
The producers took a risk by airing it in May after “American Idol,” and then not again until its fall lineup premiere on Sept. 9, but it seems absence makes the heart grow fonder. A shopping mall tour, ComicCon screening and a “Biggest GLEEk” contest kept the hype building for the show throughout the summer.
But the multifaceted campaign strategy had a purpose: to display this complex show and reach a broad audience that otherwise might not tune in.
“Glee” centers around an Ohio high school singing troop, and starts out with a typical pecking order division of school groups. Teasers show that when this rainbow coalition of misfit toys gains confidence and talent, the social order is all shook up – and that’s just the beginning of the shaking that this group is doing.
The show’s first single from the pilot episode, a reworking of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” shot to the No. 1 ranking on the iTunes chart. A venture this toe-tapping hasn’t come out of Hollywood since the 1990’s “Sister Act” movies. Versions of “Gold Digger” and “Push It” released over the summer showcased how musically diverse this show will be, ranging from 1980s rock to hip-hop and R & B.
Jane Lynch is perfection as “Cheerios” squad leader Sue, creating a villain with only a few caustic one liners, including “Get the agony out of your eyes!” and “You think this is hard? I’m living with hepatitis, that’s hard.”
Lea Michele’s over-achieving Rachel Berry is the perfect incarnation of “that girl” – the girl with color-coded notes who always sits in front and asks lengthy questions just as the professor is about to dismiss class early. At first the audience is unsure if she’s going to succeed in her lofty goals or pull a Carrie and burn the school down. Fortunately, it’s the former. The surprising part isn’t how quickly she makes Rachel a relatable character, it’s how long they take to let her sing. Like her character, Michele has star power to the extreme, and her voice is easily the strongest in the cast, and when she belts out “On My Own” from Broadway’s “Les Miserables,” you can tell she (and her character) has incredible talent.
The only sour note comes with Jessalyn Gilsig’s (seen last season on NBC’s “Heroes”) Terri, the wife of Glee club leader Will Schuester. She’s a bed-and-bath-product-crazed, harpy of a wife. It’s a bit unbelievable that Mr. Schuester (played by the underrated Matthew Morrison) could be trapped by such a vacant and manipulative nut-job and not even realize how unhappy he is.
This off-beat comedy is sure to add some sass to the fall shows, especially with its diverse characters and lyrical spin on the David vs. Goliath story line that makes you want to root for “Glee” despite its shortcomings.
“Glee” premieres tonight at 9 pm.